Macrame Forever!

Practical Macrame - coverPractical Macrame

Submitter: I work in a public library, and I have to say that I’d never heard of macrame prior to retrieving this book for a patron. I asked my mother, who graduated from college in the late ’70s, and she remembered it vaguely. The book itself is showing its age – it was down in the basement, and the bottom of the cover has worn away to reveal the cardboard.

Holly: Never heard of macrame? This must have been quite a shock for you, then!  Behold, dear readers. This is one of the best macrame books I’ve seen.

Practical Macrame inside flap

Practical Macrame back flap

macrame bathing suit

macrame vest

gown with macrame belt

man's vest

woman's vest



  1. I was born in 1977 and I know what macrame is, have even done some, but just a few bracelets and necklaces. Even then, quite a bit of conditioning was required even to be able to wear them around my neck or wrist without them being scratchy. (“Conditioning” consisting of putting actual conditioner on the hemp cord and taking a shower while wearing the item in question.) I can’t even imagine wearing a bikini made of the stuff. I’m itchy just thinking about it.

  2. Is it wrong that this book actually makes me want to learn to make macrame. If only to use for Halloween costumes?

  3. “This is one of the best macrame books I’ve seen.”

    Damning with faint praise?

  4. Ragan–does it have to be hemp cord, for macrame? If you used, say, silk cord, the bikini might be wearable…if drafty.

    The belt the pre-Raphaelite-esque woman has on is actually reasonably attractive, and the necklace/scarf thing isn’t hideous–I’m pretty sure they’re the first macrame accessories I’ve ever seen that were reasonable to look at. (The less said about the upper-arm bracelet and the headband, the better.)

  5. I made a bikini out of cotton kitchen twine one summer when I was about 13. Every time I wore it in swimming, it required about an hour of shaping so it didn’t dry funny.

  6. Macrame was huge in the early ’70, but most people didn’t get past hanging baskets. Why learn to knit or crochet when you can tie knits in string?

  7. I used to take Saturday morning Macrame classes back in the 70’s, and we primarily used jute, which was very coarse and rough, but strong. My instructor’s hands were always raw and red from handling the jute. However, I do remember making wall hangings and plant hangers out of other materials that weren’t so rough, so yes, the bikini is doable. I would be more worried that the knots are placed properly to cover my naughty bits :-).

  8. @BC – Couldn’t you line the cups and the bottoms with another material, sewn to the outer edges and various knots? That way you don’t have to worry about the placement. Plus maybe that would help with keeping the shape when wet.

  9. I was also born in 1977… We had some macrame hanging baskets in the house and to this day I find it very cheesy. Anyway, now I work at a library and to my surprise, someone asked for macrame books and to my bigger surprise he was… a biker. Maybe it’s just me, I thought it was an interesting combination macrame+motorcycle. 😉

  10. With the popularity of knitting and crocheting, especially lace knitting, I predict a small but notable resurgence in macrame. Hairpin lace is a popular offshoot… One of my friends just made herself a Tunisian crochet dress, and it’s not that far off.
    Which is still no reason to keep this book, or course.

  11. I guess you don’t have to use hemp, it was just easy to find at the time, and an appropriate weight and color for what I wanted to do. Some of the other commenters have pointed out other issues with the bikini, though (shaping, coverage).

    Also, for what it’s worth, there are a lot of macrame instructions free on the web.

  12. Dear Pat: When is macrame never practical? personally I’d like to see the wild and impractical macrame. Maybe your parents would stop you as you are leaving to go hang out: “Where do you think you’re going in that impractical macrame suit?”

  13. I made the mistake of showing this to my wife, who was born in 1981.

    She actually wants to see if the book has “how-to” for the one design.

    You can pick it up used on Amazon for about $7 with shipping.

    But unfortunately, my city library (the state repository library, mind you) has this book in circulation.

    My working theory is that this fashion is JUST old enough to be “new” or back in fashion again. *shudders*

  14. I recall those offensively cheerful macrame books of the 60s, too… it was only later that I came to realise that it was all originally the fault of seafarers with too much time on their hands. The Ashley Book Of Knots reckons (with some justification) to be a pretty thorough compendium of That Sort Of Thing; in the foreword, Mr Ashley describes the decline of knotting-as-a-pastime among sailors, blaming an increase in literacy; the sailors would read books instead of making those thoroughly useful hanging hornpipe baskets and ornamental rum bottle holders. He noted and welcomed a resurgence of knotting with the advent of radio on board, but darkly foresaw a distant future when the cinema would be adapted to shipboard life. How right he was!

  15. Back in the day, I taught a group of 21 First Grade Blue Birds to macrame plant holders for a Mother’s Day gift. I still have the hanging macrame Christmas tree my Dad made for my Mother.
    However, I’d think again about the patterns in this book.

  16. The first thing I thought was; why is the first woman wearing a wall hanging.

  17. The memories are flooding back! I never remember anyone I actually met using macramé for anything other than plant holders and the like, but I have seen advertisements and people on TV wearing outfits like those above, so this book is a serious nostalgia trip for me!

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